The obligatory duties of the hajj
There are five pillars or basic principles of Islam and Hajj is the fifth pillar or principle. It is safe to say that once Muslims fulfill the first four pillars, they are ready to perform this one. Hajj is a multiple kind of worship as it contains physical worship as well as monetary sacrifice too in the form of travel and sacrifice expenses.
Muslims travel by air, road or sea, all the way to Makkah to offer this obligation. They desire to cleanse and purge their body and souls of all sins, pollution and impurities and promise to practice the religious duties better than before when they return to their homes. In order to fully enjoy the benefits of performing hajj, there are some obligatory deeds to be performed for the Hajj to be complete. These include wearing Ihram from the designated place (Miqat), staying at Arafat for a day, spending the night at Mina and Muzdalfa, throwing stones at Satan, shaving the head or cutting the hair, and final tawaf before leaving.
Wearing ihram from the Miqat is the first obligation for Hajj. Miqat is a place for Muslims intending to perform Hajj, from where they have to wear a specific robe for hajj known as Ihram. It is white in color and different for both men and women. Just like many professions and occasions require a proper dress code, it is compulsory for those intending to perform Hajj to abide by this rule. All the Muslims from all over the world, whether young or old, rich or poor, wear same dress regardless of their country and financial status to show unity and equality in the biggest congregation held every year.
Presence in the ground of Arafat and staying for night at Mina are rituals that have been performed for centuries and they have significance and meaning behind them. Similarly throwing pebbles at Satan in a prescribed manner too has a background behind it. Prophet Ibrahim threw stones at three pillars to kill temptation of disobedience of Allah and this is followed by Muslims to date. Muslims have to throw 49 stones on three pillars, now changed to walls since 2004 by Saudi government, in three days starting from 10th zulhajj.
Then they sacrifice an animal in the name of Allah and shave their heads, and women shorten the length of their hair, signifying getting rid of sins and getting purified from sins. Sacrifice is a form of physical offering to Allah, which actually is in the memory of the historic event of prophet Ibrahim and his son Ismail. Prophet Ibrahim had decided to sacrifice his son for Allah and Allah made his deed memorable for the world. Muslims all over the world slaughter animals as sacrifice on 10 zulhaj to commemorate his love for Allah.
After completing all the obligations and deciding to go back to their countries, Muslims go for a final tawaf, tawaf al wada, before leaving Makkah. They pray for the forgiveness of their sins, for wellbeing of their loved ones and step out of Makkah with a light, pure heart and intend to be good Muslims in their lives.